by Amelia Dogan.
Since 2002, the Philadelphia Zine Fest has been bringing together independent publishers and zine readers once a year. On November 11, the Zine Fest took place in a smushed auditorium at the University of Pennsylvania Rotunda. The Zine Fest is about being a safe space for creative people all around. Some vendors even sell non-zine items like prints or t-shirts.
I went because I have always had a long interest in zines. Zines come from a long history of feminist and underground publications. Some of the best zines come from the Riot Grrl era, a feminist punk scene in Washington during the 1990s. They are often used to spread information about niche topics like reproductive health and decolonization. Zines can be radical like anarchist publications or person’s own memoir. Zines give an option to people who can not traditionally publish via large magazines a place for them to have content and artistic control for their own publication. Some people would anybody can do this on the internet now, but zines still have a large physical following.
When I look for zines, I always either look for content heavy or illustration heavy ones. I am not a huge fan of the balanced one or the ones that look like comics. The illustration heavy ones are typically done with a lot of care by a talented illustrator, while the content heavy ones provide a great deal of information after plenty of research. The illustration/art zines are my favorite to flip through for design inspiration– kind of like a physical Pinterest board.
Besides just what’s inside the zine, printing matters. A traditional zine used to be hand drawn with things cut and paste, then the zine would be copied en masse on a copier. Nowadays, zines can also be found as PDFs online. These traditional zines could be found at the Philly Zine Fair, but there were also higher quality printed ones. The ones printed on heavier paper with a different material for a cover can be expensive though.
So now, maybe you are interested in trying your hand in making a zine. You can give these to your friends, family, or just keep them for yourself. The simplest form at a zine can be found here. You just need to make a couple cuts to the paper then illustrate or collage it yourself about whatever theme. You could also open up a PowerPoint or Google Presentation and set the slide size to a smaller size. Then do some digital editing, print it out, and voila you have your own zine.